Bill Paxton as Morgan Earp in Tombstone

Bill Paxton as Morgan Earp in Tombstone (1993)

In the wake of his success in restoring order in Dodge City, Wyatt Earp relocates to Tombstone, Arizona, with the goal of becoming independently wealthy through anonymity. There, he reconnects with his brothers, Virgil and Morgan, and sees an old acquaintance, Doc Holliday.

The town of Tombstone is being plagued by a gang of outlaws (the Cowboys) which kills the town marshal, causing Virgil Earp to take the job.

Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, and Morgan Earp (played by Bill Paxton) assist Virgil in his plan to arrest the gang at the OK Corral.

Morgan Earp

Following the events at OK Corral, the Cowboys first ambush Virgil Earp and injure him with a shotgun blast to the back, which left him with a permanently damaged left arm. Later they creep up on Morgan Earp and fatally shot him from outside, as he was playing billiards.

The individuals who carried out the shootings escaped justice as they were let-off on some technicalities.

In conversation with Wyatt Earp as Morgan lay dying, there are a couple of memorable quotes:

Morgan Earp’s last words are said to have been:

“Remember what I said about people seein’ a bright light before they die? It ain’t true. I can’t see a damn thing.”

Bill Paxton

Bill Paxton, who played Morgan Earp in the movie Tombstone, was born in Fort Worth, Texas. His date of birth was 17th May, 1955. On moving to Los Angeles, Bill found work as a set-dresser for New World Pictures.

While we will always remember Bill Paxton as Morgan Earp in tombstone, he did play a number of other roles during his career.

His film debut was in the movie Crazy Mama, released in 1975. After this, he moved to New York to study acting under Stella Adler, at New York University.

Moving on to 1981, Paxton managed to secure a part in Stripes (1981), and subsequently in a string of low budget movies, supplemented by television work. He was able to get a role in his first James Cameron film, with a small part in Terminator. This was followed by roles in Aliens (1986), Near Dark (1987), and Weird Science (1985).

In 1992 he was cast in his first lead role, One False Move (1992). This role led to his part in Tombstone (1993), where he played Morgan Earp.

Bill Paxton seemed to attract roles that would end up dead by the end of the film, for example:

  • The Terminator (1984) – Punk Leader
  • Aliens (1986) – Private Hudson
  • Next of Kin (1989) – Gerald
  • Navy Seals (1990) – Dane
  • Predator 2 (1990) – Jerry Lambert
  • Tombstone (1993) – Morgan Earp
  • U-571 (2000), – Dahigren
  • Vertical Limit (2000), – Elliot Vaughan
  • Club Dread (2004) – Coconut Pete

Bill Paxton Early Life and Family

Bill Paxton’s parents were John Lane Paxton and Mary Lou Paxton. He was born in Fort Worth, Taxas. Bill Paxtons first media appearance was in 1963 when in the photos showing onlookers at the assassination of President Kennedy, a young Bill was pictured sitting on his father’s shoulders watching the rally.

Bill studied at Arlington Heights High School and graduated in 1973, before moving to England where he studied at Richmond College and together with his friends Danny Martin and Tom Huckabee, he experimented with film production.

He married Louise Newbury in 1987 and later married Kelly Rowan in 1979, the second marriage lasted until 1980. He had two children, James Paxton, and Lydia Paxton.

Paxton passed away in 2017.

The Real Morgan Earp

The events in the film Tombstone are very loosely based on true events. These events took place in the 1880s in Tombstone, Arizona.

Morgan Earp was a lawman and sheriff, who worked in Tombstone. He worked with his two brothers, Wyatt and Virgil. Together with Doc Holliday he confronted the outlaws called the Cochise County Cowboys in the Gunfight at the OK Corral.

Two months after the cowboys had exacted their revenge on Morgan’s brother Virgil, leaving him with a permanently damaged left arm, Morgan was assassinated while playing billiards. Unfortunately the cowboys escaped justice on a technicality and Wyat Earp decided to form a posse and exact his own revenge. Ultimately Wyatt had killed remaining suspects not already in jail apart from Johnny Ringo who later committed suicide, Ike Clanton, who was shot when chased for cattle rustling, and Phineas Clanton who died in 1906.

The character Morgan Earp and his brothers also appeared in the 1994 film, Wyatt Earp. Morgan Earp was played this time by Lynden Ashby.

Related Questions

Did Morgan Earp’s Widow Remarry?

After Morgan was assassinated in 1882, his widow, Louisa, lived in Southern California. She was estranged from the remaining Earp family and in 1885 she married Gustav Peters. She died nine years later due to kidney disease in Long Beach.

What Sort of Youth Did Morgan Earp Have?

Morgan was born in Pella, in Iowa. His birth was on 24th April 1851. When Morgan was a teenager, the American Civil War was taking place and Morgan’s older brothers, Newton, James and Virgil went to fight. There were several brothers so this left Wyatt, Warren and Morgan to stay at home and tend the family farm..Morganlater moved with his family to San Bernardino and then subsequently, Morgan went to Dodge City where his brother Wyatt had relocated. It was there he married Louis Houston.

Was Morgan Earp Buried in Tombstone?

In the period between his death and the Earp Vendetta Ride, Morgan’s body was moved to Hermosa Cemetery, which was in Colton California.

How Did Bill Paxton Die?

Bill Paxton underwent surgery to replace his aortic valve. On his death certificate it stated that he died of a stroke following the surgery.

Was Bill Paxton’s Wife British?

Bill met how wife Louise in Twickenham High Street, in England.Bill was still a struggling actor and Louise was still a teenage student. To be precise, they actually met on a Number 39 bus and she glanced towards him as she got on the bus. Louise is said to have been just 17 years old when the couple began to date.

1 thought on “Bill Paxton as Morgan Earp in Tombstone”

  1. Hi there,

    I just read your article on Bill Paxton’s role in Tombstone and I have to say, I was thoroughly impressed by the level of detail and research that went into this piece. Your passion for both Bill Paxton and the film Tombstone shines through in your writing, making it a delight to read.

    One of the things I appreciated most about your article was the focus on Bill Paxton’s character, Morgan Earp. It’s not often that someone takes the time to delve into the details of a supporting character in a film, but you did a fantastic job of bringing Morgan to life. Your descriptions of Paxton’s performance and the ways in which he brought depth and nuance to the role were particularly intriguing.

    I also appreciated the historical context you provided, giving readers a sense of the real-life events that inspired the film. This added a new level of understanding and appreciation for both the film and Bill Paxton’s portrayal of Morgan Earp.

    Overall, I just wanted to say thank you for writing such a fantastic article. Your love for Tombstone and the work of Bill Paxton truly shines through, and I look forward to reading more of your writing in the future.

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